By | July 4, 2014 11 Comments

LETTER LOVEFRAUD: Countermeasures to deal with the sociopathic ex

Editor’s note: Here is a letter from a Lovefraud reader whom we’ll call “GI Joe.” This reader is in the military, so July 4th seemed an appropriate time to post this article. First, I want to acknowledge him and all members of the military for their service. Secondly, the answers to his questions have to do with freedom.

My ex-wife and I divorced in 2012. The marriage was a nightmare that lasted more than 11 years and left me financially ruined, emotionally distressed and alone. To make matters worse, my ex moved out of state with my children, making it impossible for me to see my children on a regular basis.

Since I was in a financial hurt locker, it took me years before I was able to save up enough to battle her in court to get full summer vacations with the children, every other Christmas holiday, and guaranteed phone calls and skype calls. She even has to pay half on travel costs for the children to come see me.

In spite of all of this, my sociopathic ex finds ways to make my life difficult and further alienate me from the children. Pictures of my children and I that were hanging on their bedroom walls were removed. My ex spath even went so far as to instruct our children to begin calling her new boyfriend (now her husband) “daddy,” causing more confusion for the children (especially my 5-year-old daughter, who now differentiates her stepfather and myself as “fake daddy and real daddy”).

To even make matters worse, I receive no financial support from my ex while the children are with me, to include the fact that my ex is also keeping the child support I send to her. So with this being said, I have to support myself and three children (ages 12,11 and 5) all while serving in the military, which bears a pretty large financial burden in the form of day care expenses.

To top this off, even though I pay my ex over $16,000 a year in child support, I don’t even get to claim them on taxes as our divorce decree did not specify this and my ex files for taxes before I can even say anything about it. Last year, my ex filed her taxes with her husband and claimed all three of my children, to include one child she has with her new husband. She does not work, and her husband is also in the military. By doing this, she ensures that I am not able to accrue large amounts of money, keeping me from financially stabilizing myself and also ensuring that I will not be able to afford going to court in order to rectify these wrongs.

My question is, How do I allow myself to heal when I am still very much in contact with my ex spath? How can you heal when you cannot defend yourself?

If I do as yourself and other writers have suggested and partake in a no-contact order, then I risk losing my children and/or allowing them to become brainwashed by my ex. I know I have to go to court again with her because as long as things stay the way they are, I will never be able to get on my feet and it will become increasingly harder for me to spend time with my children as I will not be able to do so financially.

How do you maintain that arm’s distance to allow the healing process to begin? I believe very much so that this issue needs to be resolved in order for me to truly move on.

Donna Andersen responds

GI Joe:

Know that what you are experiencing is typical when you’re trying to co-parent with a sociopath. Often the sociopath’s objective is to do everything she can to make your life miserable. So let’s talk about, to borrow a military term, countermeasures.

Your letter brings up three issues:

1. Dealing with your ex-wife
2. Dealing with your children
3. Your own recovery

I’ll discuss these issues one at a time.

The ex-wife

Yes, usually Lovefraud recommends no contact with the sociopath. The big exception to that policy is when you share children with him or her. Then your objective needs to be minimizing the contact, and making whatever contact you do have less stressful.

The only communication you should have with her should be related to the “business” of dealing with your children. If she tries to engage you in any other discussion, do not take the bait. Do not reveal anything about your life.

Even though it is sad that she is out of state and it’s difficult to see your kids, the good news is that she is not in your face. This should make it easier to attain what I call “emotional no contact.”

Emotional no contact means you do not let her get to you. When she pulls her latest stunt, whatever it is, you simply do not react. Remember, sociopaths feed on reactions. So if you deny her a reaction, you are not feeding the beast.

You want to get to the point where you can anticipate what she’s going to do, and when she does it, you privately roll your eyes. In your mind you should be saying, “There she goes again.”

Maybe you’re already doing this, and if so, that’s great. If you’re not, getting to this point has to do with your own healing, which I’ll discuss in a bit.

About the money First of all, perhaps it’s better to use your money to see your children under the arrangements that exist now, rather then spending it on lawyers. You could spend thousands of dollars to go to court, and end up with a situation that changes very little.

If what you really want is to be able to claim your kids as a tax deduction, maybe there’s another way to accomplish that. Can you call the IRS, explain your situation, and ask for a “clarification”? It won’t cost anything. And who knows? Maybe the IRS will become curious about what else she’s doing with her taxes.

(Lovefraud readers: Has anyone tried this? Is there any reason not to do it?)

Finally, document, document, document. Keep very good records of anything that happens to your children, and any inappropriate parenting by your ex. Save every email, text and document. Keep notes, and develop a way to organize them. Should you ever decide that she is abusing your kids, and you must to go back to court, you’ll need evidence to prove your case.

The children

You want to be a beacon of love and stability for your children. Every time you speak to them, tell them that you love them. Make sure you are reliable and keep your promises. (Their sociopathic mother won’t do either.) Call when you say you’re going to call. Do what you say you’re going to do.

Your kids will see the difference. After all, your youngest already knows the difference between “real daddy” and “fake daddy.”

About the pictures can you make a Facebook or Pinterest page where you can post them? This can be a reminder for your kids that is always available. Keep updating the page with messages and pictures. (For safety’s sake, make sure the page is private.)

Because the American family courts are often a fiasco, many, many parents have seen their kids court-ordered to live with sociopaths. It can be hard on the kids. But eventually they grow up, and I’ve heard kids who have “aged out” of the situation talk about their experience. Here’s what they say to the healthy parent: Don’t give up. Keep being there for your kids, however you can.

If the kids aren’t themselves disordered which, unfortunately, is a risk eventually they will see the truth.

Your recovery

In your letter, you said that you feel the financial issue needs to be resolved in order for you to truly move on. Actually, this is not true.

Recovery from the experience with a sociopath takes two tracks. The first track is dealing with whatever practical mess the sociopath left for you. The second track is your personal healing.

Here’s what you should understand: You do not need to wait until your financial situation is resolved to begin your emotional recovery. You can make progress on both of these tracks at the same time.

I wrote about this a few months ago on Lovefraud:

Recovery — parallel courses for moving forward


Most of our upset after tangling with a sociopath comes from wanting things to be different. We wish that we never met the person. We wish we’d gotten out when we sensed something was wrong. We wish that the sociopath could just be normal.

The key to recovery is acceptance. This does not mean that you condone the sociopath’s behavior. But you do accept that the situation is what it is.

Then you grieve it.

Processing the pain

You’ve experienced a terrible loss the same as losing friends in Afghanistan or Iraq. You’ve lost the woman you thought you married, the family life that you wanted, the joy of being with your children every day, the future that you envisioned. Make no mistake the loss is severe.

You’ll need to process the grief, which means allowing yourself to feel the pain. If you’ve done this, great. If not, realize that when emotions are bottled up inside of you, they fester. They affect the way you perceive life. And if the pain is stuck within you long enough, your body turns it into disease.

Give yourself permission to process the pain, knowing getting the negative emotions out of your system frees you.

When you feel better, you may start to see new solutions to the practical matters you’re faced with. You’ll also be able to offer more love to your children and that’s really important.


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Thanks for sharing this story. My ex is a USMC Colonel, lawyer, and sociopath who uses the court system to emotionally abuse me and keep me from healing. He abandoned our family in 2005 after depleting all of our savings and abusing me. He left our house in the middle of construction and refused to cooperate with the divorce. I have spent in excess of $100K in legal fees. I filed for divorce in 2005 and nine years later we are still in litigation. This time he wants to reduce child support even though he lives in a $2.6 million dollar house in Colorado and intentionally took a job below what he should have yet he will win because of his “war hero” and law enforcement status. The house and expensive car are in his wife’s name and he keeps his 20 year old car so he can play the part of “poor” public servant. We barely survived his abuse and had to move from VA to Arkansas to survive financially. He is angry I survived his obstacles and flourished (we were forced to sell the marital home, he then tried to force the sale of my home in Arkansas I bought on my own, kept the litigation going for years even though I had an absolute right to the divorce, tried to keep the divorce in Virginia even though we were in Arkansas and he had taken a job in CO).I have full custody of the kids and the kids are flourishing without him. I try to avoid contact with him but he keeps attacking me with court actions and threats to ruin my career. My attorneys do nothing to protect me. I will never be able to heal. Our sons do not want to spend time with their dad because of what he does to me. He does not see if he hurts me he hurts them. My 14 year old said he will confront his dad but he and I are scared of what his dad’s lawyer will do to me if he does. There is no help when you ex is a USMC sociopath.


Dear G.I. Joe ”“ thank you for your service sir. My father was in the military for several years and I appreciated his service although I did not understand until I was older just what military service meant. Your situation is crazy making and completely unfair.

I am talking to you today as a child of a wonderful father and a sociopath mother. My mother created all the roadblocks you wrote about to get between my father and his children (while flirting with every man who crossed her path). He never stopped being kind and calm and showed us by his example a different way to be human in contrast to our mother. I think he was depressed a lot of the time and tired, and sometimes he would just sit and look at us. Now I understand.

I want to send encouragement to you and tell you that I figured out my mother (bottomless pit was my label for her) and I will forever be grateful to have known my father. He made a decision to have a relationship with us and reached out like you are doing. Please get ongoing support for your situation and I am so glad you found Love Fraud and posted here. Maybe a group or friends or virtual support or whoever can help to sustain you through what will be an ongoing long-term effort. Pace yourself and find ways to stay in touch with your children. Maybe social media or phone calls or letters (I know *she* will put up roadblocks). Maybe brainstorm with friends or a virtual support group on how to contact your children often. My father would call us most days just to chat for a few minutes when he had to be away from us. But whatever you do, please have ongoing support for you so you can sustain your spirit.

I wonder if you might have access to legal advice to help you brainstorm as well on what will work to help you. The lawyers I know just want to do the paperwork and dismiss the client, but I hope there might be better resources for you. If not, I understand so well. It is discouraging to me as I seek to dissolve my marriage that my sociopath husband will get a big part of my pension, so I know what it’s like to have a financial hardship. I am so sorry. Maybe all I have said is what you already know, but I wanted to send support to you.

You are a wonderful father because you care and because you are worried. Bless you and hang in there ”“ your children need your healthy example. Even if you are stressed and have to be away from them for long periods of time, every interaction with them will count. I finally got a break in the chaos and began to see my father with my own eyes – his example and love remain precious to me. I am active duty military also and I understand your world. Very best wishes to you.


That is great to hear that you were able to grow up and realize the truth about your sociopathic mother. One of my greatest feas is that my children will become completely brainwashed and forget everything Dad has done for them and with them. Or worse, they turn out like my ex. I’m still healing from the shock of my life completely being torn apart and my biggest dream of all, raising a happy family was ruined by one uncaring person.


I am so sorry for what you are going through. I am always amazed by all the stories I read on LF, because they all sound like my story. Spaths all seem to have the same handbook. My ex left me pregnant, and homeless along with my then 8 year old son. He has taken me to court 11 times to get custody of our daughter who is now 9. He plays the system constantly. He had been initially ordered to pay $150 a week in child support, he did not want to pay that much so he claimed that he could no longer work because I had caused him to have a heart attack. The court lowered his child support to $80 a month, he would pay 1 month then miss 2 months pay 1 month miss 1 month and DOR lets it go. Well he missed 1 too many months in a row and failed to pay current so DOR suspended his drivers license. He got pulled over and was arrested for driving on a suspended license. First thing he did was call his lawyer friend and they went running into court. What he filled was so ridiculous I laughed when I received it. First he filled that the Judge order DOR to reinstate his drivers license (because my ex claimed he had doctors appointments he had to get to) The Judge did order this. The next thing he wanted was for DOR to be prohibited from taking any administrative action against him again. The Judge ordered this. The next item he was asking for was custody of our then 2 year old daughter, and that I have to pay him $150 a week in child support. He also wanted the past due child support that he owed about $1800 at that time wiped out. Luckily these two were not granted. He also has a new wife I prayed that he would leave me alone since he had a new victim but he hasn’t. It has gotten better for me but sadly my daughter still has to spend every other weekend with him. Sadly, your soon to be ex does not care if he hurts his sons. For me that was the hardest thing to accept. That he did not love or even care about our daughter. When she was 3 I found out that she had been sexually abused by him. I freaked out, I could not understand how he could do this to this beautiful innocent baby. Then I was sickened to think that I had married a pedophile. I found out later that he had been accused by 2 other children of sexual abuse going back as far as 20 years. One of the accusers had been his oldest son who at the time was also 3, the other accuser had been his niece who later recanted her statements. As I began learning more about psychopaths and started going through his past court records I did notice a pattern. He abused his son very soon after learning that the sons mother was engaged to someone else. The niece had been molested after her mother had an argument with the spath (her brother) she had gotten a restraining order against him. I myself had gotten a restraining order against him and had NO Contact for a while. I believe he abused our daughter in order to hurt me. If your attorneys are not putting an end to this I believe you may need to get a new attorney. Again I am very sorry for what you are being put through, I will keep you in my prayers and hope for a quick resolution in the courts.


Calling the IRS won’t accomplish anything in this situation, because the rule is that the custodial parent can claim the children, unless there is an agreement otherwise. Usually divorce decrees arrange for the parent who would benefit most from the tax deduction to claim the children and the support payments are adjusted accordingly. Not enough information is given to know whether the support payments and visitation arrangements are reasonable. $16,000 per year for 3 children could be reasonable depending on income and how much of the year the children live with their mother. It might be worth a consultation with an attorney (some do initial consultations for free) or legal aid to see if the terms are not reasonable and whether it’s possible to get them changed by going to court.


My CPA answered the same question you had about claiming exemptions a few years back. In joint custody unless there is a stipulation in the divorce agreement, the first one to file gets the exemption and the second return processed by the IRS will bounce. Since my x sp is always late filing I have never had mine denied. File your return electronically as soon as you receive your W2 or other tax documents. Besides the deduction you might get a small pleasure of knowing she’ll have to refile a paper return. And yes I confess, I’m trying to get over it but I enjoy knowing she’s on the “crash and burn” course.


GI Joe,

Although your situation is horrible I’m glad you wrote and asked. Knowing others are out there suffering as I am strengthens me because I now know quite a few things…I’m not loosing my mind, this person is evil, cruel and basically an idiot with a cape and it’s not my fault. I’m still in the game so I deal with it daily. I remember reading about no contact. I’m like, “I’m still married to the spath.” I have children with the spath. But, baby…the strength I’ve gained using emotional no contact is amazing. I often chat with trusted others about the shenanigans my spath pulls. We laugh and laugh. I guess hormones are released during gut belly laughs that refreshes. Donna says to mentally roll your eyes. Whatever works for you. I sometimes audibly chuckle at much of the irony. I find ways to process the lunacy. You are already prepared to physically defend your self and your country. Let’s work on your emotional defenses. Take it as an experiment working toward finding what works for you when you have to deal with the spath. My children already know something is amiss because the see my behavior has drastically changed and his has not. I upped the game and he can’t meet it. How did I up the game? I emotionally removed myself from it even when sitting in the same room. I keep my word. I am honest. I am sincere. I smile. I am polite. I chat with strangers when running errands like at the grocery store or at the library. Before I was angry frustrated and couldn’t even remember I made promises. Again, how did I up the game? I didn’t up the game to get back at my spath. I upped the game by making a choice to live…no matter what.

You can do it. It’s a process toward the end of growth, development and life.


Dear GI Joe,
It does work out to a solid relationship with your children, regardless of the crap, as long as you stay in contact and stay true to this important point: That you are about your children’s lives rather than they about your life. Their lives are school, friends and the things they do. Stay relevant to those things and being their biggest fan and it will all come home to roost. They are going to need you later and they are going to also want to develop their own relationship with you that is out of the confining arrangement now. You count more than they can express to you at their ages or may express ever. You are their father and you have rather an edge for not being the everyday parent: You are romanticized as their warm place to land in times of stress. So, rest easy on that score.

You miss them deeply, I’m sure. I don’t have an antidote for that. I so wish I did. All I can say is I hope you never stop missing them.

Healing comes when your thoughts go to other things. Healing requires rest; including one’s mind to rest. I don’t think it works very well to try to stop thinking about this situation. It’s more useful and practical to become distracted by other things. And then the rest begins and the healing creeps in. So, trying to be active and involved in other things is the poltice. Tall order upon you, I realize, for the fact of missing your children. You may not be able to completely heal until they can be with you on their own recognizance. What you can do, though, is identify for yourself what you think healing will bring to you and pick one of those imagined benefits that is achievable to work on. Those not achievable (Because you miss your children),you put away and credit yourself with shouldering as best you can. We do have to shoulder grief in our lives. It’s hard. Appreciating that it is hard is a part of crediting yourself.

If you can’t get a jump on taxes, still file with the children as dependents and when it bounces on you, raise hell with the IRS. The question to take up the ladder with the IRS is that your child support substantiates that you are providing 50+% to the dependents. Doesn’t the ex have to substantiate that she paid more than $16,000 in child rearing to make her claim?


I think that would have to be one o my biggest fears is losing my kids forever. The hardest part for me is doing so when I have the ex spath making things difficult. I would miss school pictures and everything. I got smart with it and got in contact with the school so I am contacted about almost anything. I still miss a lot though. I believe that’s where a lot of the anger and pain comes from is watching my kids being manipulated by someone like that. I really do hope they (the kiddos) remember it all. I don’t want to become that guy that just buys and pays for stuff.


You won’t be just the wallet by making sure you are their soft place to land and their fan club. I have 3 sons by two disappearing fathers. The only son who didn’t go in search for his father was the one who was only 18 mos. old when his father “vanished”. I believe that he was just too young to have much of any bond to have the yearning. I will also say that this son’s bonds with anyone are tenuous including with me; an unfair price that he shoulders.

Kids humor their parents to get by. They are shrewd: They just want their lives to be going smoothly to do their thing. They still have their own thoughts or ideas and one of those ideas is always going to be that the “grass might be greener on the other side.” And that you might have treated their latest trouble or problem different than their mother. Too, it’s universal to them to feel that they are not whole until you are part of their lives. And so they will come for you when they can on their own recognizance.

How they do that may be for a plight upon them or a need for your assistance. Make that okay and a starting point. Don’t see it as just using you as a wallet. It’s kind of like the way more people (than not) get God or get into a religion: Not when their riding high but have toppled off to feel that something is missing.

Your challenge will be to take the awkwardness out of the reconnecting. If you’ve stayed relevant to their lives before hand, it won’t be too awkward. And you can most always do that in this day of age of texting, selfies and so forth. As soon as they’re able to get their hands on a cell phone, they’ll have one for sure. And that’s your opportunity to keep up to date with their doings.

Know what to expect of kids as they grow up; namely, that even under traditional circumstances, their friends and their activities are of more interest to them than you are as their parent. Do not take that to mean that you have been cut out but rather that you are their background. They expect you to be there watching their production and cheering them on. Be that for them and a resource of adventures and wisdoms… And that will guarantee you a reserved seat in their lives.


Thank You view for your take on that (as well as others who have given their advice). I still think of myself as a young parent even though it feels as if I have done this forever. I have yet to understand that 12 years (that s my oldest child’s age) is not forever and I still have much to learn. I guess I am more focused on what I will miss versus what I have now…All I know is my children are literally everything to me and if I were to lose them I would lose my all hope. I do know the relationship I had escaped from hurt me bad in more ways than one and it’s going to take a long time to recover from that. With the help from others like yourselves it makes it a little easier.

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